Friday, October 9, 2009

ASUU Ends Strike

ASUU Ends Strike October 09, 2009 The President of Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie, this morning, announced the suspension of the ongoing strike from today to create a cordial atmosphere for peaceful conclusion of negotiation with the Federal Government. Awuzie said that if the Federal Government fail to fulfil the agreement, the strike will resume. He urged the Federal Government to conclude agreement with the other unions in the university system and avoid any action that will destroy the existing harmony. Awuzie maintained that the principle of returning to the table has to be upheld, insisting that the goal post must not be shifted. “The struggle for a better education system will continue collectively with patriotic forces until we achieve the desired goals in a country of educated citizens struggling to overcome economic and political backwardness and striving to survive in 21st century.” He called for minimum standard in funding of university. He said “the ASUU leadership did not start the strike because of what they were after. It was to enthrone a working national policy for the education system.” Awuzie also commended the Federal Government for the amnesty given to the militants in the Niger Delta region. ASUU went on a two-week warning strike in May this year to remind the Federal Government of their demands for increased salary, autonomy for the universities and to stop the brain drain, especially in the academic field. The indefinite strike commenced on 22 June, 2009 without government taking a serious note of their warning strike. Academic activities were therefore paralysed in all the public universities in Nigeria for 16 weeks and four days. While speaking to journalists earlier, Professor Awuzie, had said that the union was demanding not only pay rise for its members but also autonomy and implementation of past agreements between the union and the Federal Government. After a meeting of its executive council in Akure, Ondo State, in the course of the protracted strike, ASUU announced that the strike was going to be total and it would last until government was ready to implement the agreement with the union. It said the agreement reached with ASUU took the union over two years of meticulous efforts and negotiations. However, the first sign that the ASUU strike will be prolonged was noticed in the first week as the meeting between the union and officials of the Federal Government ended in a deadlock. Education Minister, Sam Egwu said, government did not sign a pact with ASUU but only nominated people to negotiate with the lecturers and the outcome of their negotiation will be sent to President Umaru Yar’Adua. ASUU reacted by saying that government had all the time in their hands to sign and implement the agreement reached with the striking lecturers some years ago. Awuzie believed the agreement could be implemented within a week but if government failed to act, the university teachers were willing to stay away from the lecture rooms for long. And the university lecturers went on strike as they had threatened. During the strike, a Federal Government Committee headed by Gamaliel Onosode also failed to resolve the crisis. ASUU for as long as the strike lasted enjoyed the support of many Nigerians including students, their parents, rights activists, and other stakeholders in the education sector who insisted that their demand was legitimate. They further chided government for failure to implement past agreements reached with ASUU after strike actions in 1992, 1999, 2001 and 2008 when a pact was reportedly signed but not implemented.